The James Beard Foundation knowns how to pick’em based on the chefs chosen as Midwest semi-finalists in a contest some say is akin to the Oscars (not so sure about that…):
They are: David Baruthio of Baru 66 in Windsor Heights (which I consider our area’s best restaurant) for outstanding chef – along with Sean Wilson at Proof (which I haven’t visited since it changed owners); and George Formaro in the Best Restauranteur category for his groundbreaking (for Des Moines) restaurants/food – Centro, Gateway Market, Zombie Burger, Django.
George, in my view, deserves a medal for making Des Moines a place worth eating in – by bringing in a succession of crucial things that were sadly missing when I arrived here 23 years ago 1) outstanding bread (ciabatta! focaccia!) 2) one of the first good new happening restaurants in the new revived downtown, which paved the way for others 3) a world class cheese selection in the city’s first real gourmet market 4) a fun, affordable hipster burger joint 5) a lively french restaurant.